Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tales of Teancum Singh Rosenberg

My family is an iceberg. There are the generations within memory, the ones I can still assign faces and personal stories to. And then there's the endless mass of ancestors beneath them who I don't know, whose individual stories in more cases than not have been lost to earthly memory and can be read now only out of the angels' books.

For their sake, I remember my cultures.

In the absence of a Mehtab Singh who might be my great-grandfather's great grandfather, I remember the Sikh traditions he would have grown up with. In the absence of a Rivka Gottlieb or Esther Kantor who might be my great-grandmother's grandmother, I reach for the lost world of the Ashkenzim, that people who were once Eastern Europe's Jews.

My family is an iceberg, and their religious cultures take me down below the cold waters. I close my eyes and feel with numb hands for what might have been and what they might have hoped to leave for me.

When I come up for air, do I see the world differently? Have I changed by feeling, even hopelessly, toward what lies below me?

I know this: while I don't learn to speak the languages of the dead, I now speak a richer language to the living.

This is how I wrote "Tales of Teancum Singh Rosenberg."

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